By FRANCIS T. WAKEFIELD, With a report from PNA
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) have estimated that about eight foreign terrorists are still with the remaining Maute bandit group holed up in Marawi City.
According to AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo Año. These foreigners are said to be acting as leaders of local terrorists who are remnants of the Maute group which has been terrorizing the city since its attack last May 23.
Año said the report is based on the information provided by local residents and that these foreigners are said to be suicidal, prompting the military to exert extra care in the ongoing operations to avoid a backlash on the estimated 40 hostages.
AFP spokesman Major General Restituto Padilla said Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon and Maute leader Omar Maute are still believed to be with the group.
With regards to the remaining hostages still being held by the enemy, Padilla said there are only a few remaining.
“Sa bilang ng hostages kaunti nalang ang naiiwan at sinisikap nating makuha sila sa maayos na paraan,” said Padilla.
Padilla also reiterated that rescuing the remaining hostages is not easy considering the dangers and risk troops are facing.
He said aside from sniper fire, the presence of IEDs or improvise explosives devices has to be considered.
Padilla said as of latest count, the total number of government forces killed as a result of the conflict which started when Maute Group terrorists occupied Marawi last May 23, is now 158 while those wounded has already reached more than 1,600.
Padilla said majority of those who got hurt are back in the frontline fighting the terrorists.
Meanwhile, the number of buildings still need to be cleared from IEDs are about 200.
Año earlier expressed optimism that they could finish off the Marawi crisis before the end of October.